The shares of Red Hat, Inc. have increased by more than 75.04% this year alone. The shares recently went down by -5.32% or -$6.86 and now trades at $122.00. The shares of Enerplus Corporation (NYSE:ERF), has slumped by -4.96% year to date as of 12/20/2017. The shares currently trade at $9.01 and have been able to report a change of 3.68% over the past one week.

The stock of Red Hat, Inc. and Enerplus Corporation were two of the most active stocks on Wedday. Investors seem to be very interested in what happens to the stocks of these two companies but do investors favor one over the other? We will analyze the growth, profitability, risk, valuation, and insider trends of both companies and see which one investors prefer.

**Profitability and Returns**

Growth alone cannot be used to see if the company will be valuable. Shareholders will be the losers if a company invest in ventures that aren’t profitable enough to support upbeat growth. In order for us to accurately measure profitability and return, we will be using the EBITDA margin and Return on Investment (ROI), which balances the difference in capital structure. RHT has an EBITDA margin of 19.64%, this implies that the underlying business of RHT is more profitable. The ROI of RHT is 13.30% while that of ERF is 19.40%. These figures suggest that ERF ventures generate a higher ROI than that of RHT.

**Cash Flow **

The value of a stock is ultimately determined by the amount of cash flow that the investors have available. Over the last 12 months, RHT’s free cash flow per share is a positive 4.73.

**Liquidity and Financial Risk**

The ability of a company to meet up with its short-term obligations and be able to clear its longer-term debts is measured using Liquidity and leverage ratios. The current ratio for RHT is 1.30 and that of ERF is 2.00. This implies that it is easier for RHT to cover its immediate obligations over the next 12 months than ERF. The debt ratio of RHT is 0.54 compared to 0.42 for ERF. RHT can be able to settle its long-term debts and thus is a lower financial risk than ERF.

**Valuation**

RHT currently trades at a forward P/E of 37.17, a P/B of 15.44, and a P/S of 8.18 while ERF trades at a forward P/E of 14.17, a P/B of 1.77, and a P/S of 3.29. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, ERF is the cheaper one. It is very obvious that earnings are the most important factors to investors, thus analysts are most likely to place their bet on the P/E.

**Analyst Price Targets and Opinions**

The mistake some people make is that they think a cheap stock has more value to it. In order to know the value of a stock, there is need to compare its current price to its likely trading price in the future. The price of RHT is currently at a -3.01% to its one-year price target of 125.79. Looking at its rival pricing, ERF is at a -22.86% relative to its price target of 11.68. This figure implies that over the next one year, ERF is a better investment.

When looking at the investment recommendation on say a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being a strong buy, 3 a hold, and 5 a sell), RHT is given a 2.10 while 2.10 placed for ERF. This means that analysts are equally bullish on their outlook for the two stocks stocks.

**Insider Activity and Investor Sentiment**

Short interest or otherwise called the percentage of a stock’s tradable shares currently being shorted is another data that investors use to get a handle on sentiment. The short ratio for RHT is 2.64 while that of ERF is just 4.83. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for RHT stock.

**Conclusion**

The stock of Red Hat, Inc. defeats that of Enerplus Corporation when the two are compared, with RHT taking 6 out of the total factors that were been considered. RHT happens to be more profitable, generates a higher ROI, has higher cash flow per share, higher liquidity and has a lower financial risk. When looking at the stock valuation, RHT is the cheaper one on an earnings, book value and sales basis. Finally, the sentiment signal for RHT is better on when it is viewed on short interest.